Live longer. Live healthier.
In today's blog, we'll consider tips for living longer and healthier lives.
Healthspan over Lifespan?
Grocery Tour Guide
The 3 Biggies for Healthspan
The New Year is imminent. Many of us are setting goals and planning our 2022 calendars. No doubt, it's a busy life packed full of everything, sometimes anything. New resolutions, goals, and priorities characteristically put health front and center. After all, what could be more important? Whether it's a fitness resolution, a weight goal, or a general health priority – consider 2022 as the year of You!
Healthspan over Lifespan?
Let's first consider the conceptual difference between Healthspan and Lifespan. We all know what the term 'lifespan' means – the period between the birth and death of an organism. Scrutinize that timeline to reveal the amount of life spent in a healthy state. That is your 'healthspan'. Healthspan is the period of life lived in good health, free from chronic diseases and disabilities of aging (i.e., knees, back, elbows, etc.).
Over the last couple of years, life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped by 2.3 years on average. Men are now expected to live approximately 75 years and women 80 years. JAMA listed 2020's top cause-of-death rankings as Heart Disease, Cancer and COVID-19.
Before the pandemic, life expectancy trended upward in almost all developed countries, including the U.S. However, just like the 1918 pandemic, COVID-19 sent life expectancy figures tumbling due to the impact of deaths among younger people. COVID-19 stressors may have also accounted for the rise in drug overdoses, suicides, and alcohol-related deaths. Until 2020, the U.S. had not seen life expectancies drop so significantly since World War II.
Apart from COVID, Americans are dying at earlier ages from other preventable/controllable metabolic-related conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. This staggering fact demonstrates the connection to obesity and its roots in the standard American diet (SAD) and the standard American inactivity. Medical intervention can assist the Lifespan of individuals in these disease states; however, their Healthspan will remain woefully flawed.
The more attention we invest in Healthspan, the greater the chance of extending our Lifespan. It is the difference between your Healthspan and Lifespan that counts. Try this example. Pick the number of years you expect to live. Let's say it's 100. Now pick a number of healthy years within this 100-year time frame that you desire. Would it be 70, 80, 90? A magical number would be 100, of course. We want to live as long as possible, and we want to remain in good health as long as possible.
Our focus should keep our Healthspan number as close to our Lifespan timetable as possible. Remember, it's not how long we live; it's how long we live in a healthy state that matters.
Despite recent life expectancy statistics, advances in modern science help people live longer. Yet, sadly, we know that Big Food, Big Drink, Big Drug (including alcohol) companies are motivated by profit over health (personal gain over social good). They want all of us to become repeat, needy customers. Big Food uses smell, taste, and aesthetics – artificially manipulated – to create addictiveness.
They want us to eat and drink as much as possible as often as possible. Is there a strategy by Big Pharma to keep Americans reliant on their medications for a more extended period? That kind of consigned, sub-par existence (of over 40% of Americans) translates into obscene profits for these companies.
It's time to stop swallowing the hype and take our Healthspan into our own hands (and mouths).
Grocery Tour Guide
It takes a food consumer more time, research, and willpower to offset the incredible efforts of the Big companies that want us obese and disease-ridden in today's world. But help is out there.
If you've never had a life coach or nutritionist walk with you through a supermarket, you are missing an excellent opportunity to improve your health. This walk-through may well be the best investment you ever make. The Big Food/Drink corporations have a skill level way beyond yours. They know how to get people to buy their products. And their advertising can be persuasive. Don't be duped!
I get it. Most folks would not seek professional help to teach them to grocery shop. But there are so many nuances that a grocery tour guide can provide. They can teach us how to avoid duplicitous advertising, how to pick out the best fresh produce, how to read labels easily and quickly, how to spot counterfeit products, and even how to be frugal.
If you don't believe that a grocery guide could help you, I would take a relatively rigid stance and dare you to stand naked in front of a mirror. Take a close long critical look at your body. Either you are fit, or you are not. If you take my dare and don't like what you see, I suggest you need some grocery guidance.
Coach's sidebar: Being thin does not necessarily indicate fitness or health. Slender folks can be out of shape, weak, or have elevated disease markers. They, too, must work to improve their Healthspan.
The 3 Biggies for Healthspan
In addition to eating better, I've picked three areas that can relatively quickly add to your Healthspan: Weight Training, Flexibility and Autophagy.
Weight training (or strength training) involves toning and maintaining your lean muscle mass. Natural aging causes a decline in muscle mass and strength. Building muscle earlier in life can help slow down this natural loss, keeping us stronger for longer. Good muscle tone and strength will help us live independently and maintain a better quality of life in later years.
In addition to healthy aging, weight training has many other benefits. Body tone and maintaining optimal body weight are the results of regular training. Better muscle tone and strength boost all aspects of athleticism. Studies have clearly shown that as little as one hour per week of strength training improves heart health. And research tells us that weight training can boost mental health. Completing a good workout releases those 'feel-good' endorphins. Due to its weight-bearing effect, controlled strength training triggers improvement in bone health. Those are several compelling reasons to amplify your weight training in 2022.
It's worth mentioning always to be careful with your workouts. It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting to lift more than our muscles and joints can handle adequately. Improper weight training is a recipe for injuries. Proper technique is a formula for strong, healthy bodies.
For those of you who are carrying a little (or a lot) of extra body weight, consider an exercise regime that includes some weight/strength training. But remember, you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. The older one gets, the more apparent this truth becomes. Proper exercise and good eating habits are inexorably linked.
Coach's sidebar: Weight training is not bodybuilding! While bodybuilding can benefit muscle and bone health, it can be detrimental to overall heart health. In 2016, one study showed that the mean age of death for a bodybuilder was 47.7 years. Their physicality may not contribute to their Lifespan. The study supports the possibility that the use of performance-enhancing drugs and unique competitive training may contribute to deaths among younger professional bodybuilders.
Another addition to your exercise regime is flexibility training. Improved flexibility produces a wide range of benefits. Activities like Yoga, Dynamic Stretching, Pilates, Tai Chi, Stretching with Bands, and Foam Rolling are part of the long list of ways to keep agile and supple. Strength and flexibility allow your body to withstand more physical stress. Flexible muscles work more effectively. Flexibility improves muscle balance and posture. It keeps your muscles looser and less tense, resulting in less pain.
Like weight training, stretching exercises bring about a relaxed state of mind and overall well-being. I suggest you find at least three of these types of activities to incorporate into your weekly routine. It's fun and energizing to try new things, and it breaks up a one-dimensional workout humdrum.
Lastly, an essential part of your Healthspan is the process of autophagy(pronounced aa-taa’-fuh-jee). Autophagy is the body's way of cleaning out damaged cells to regenerate newer, healthier cells. Autophagy declines as we age, so this means cells that no longer work may do harm if allowed to multiply. Fasting is the most effective way to trigger autophagy. Fasting may reduce inflammation, protect against disease, and support anti-aging. It's the best way to clear out harmful toxins and reset your immune system.
Intermittent fasting (restricted eating 'windows' during the day) can jump-start this super cleansing process. Skipping breakfast is an easy start to this habit. Since you don't eat while sleeping, a breakfast skip increases your 'fasting' time. Try to keep your eating window between 6 to 10 hours. Genetically we are not designed to eat constantly all day long. We don't have three stomachs.
During a complete 24-hour fast, glycogen (the storage form of carbs) is depleted, and insulin levels are reduced. Fasting allows your body to burn primarily fat for energy, making stored body fat more available for use. If a 24-hour fast seems difficult, it could indicate that you are not eating healthy, satiating foods. In addition to fasting, remove simple carbs from your diet. (Simple carbs, simple minds. Complex carbs, complex minds.) Try a cycle of 24-hour fasting a couple of times per month along with intermittent daily fasting.
Experts agree that there is no one best definitive fasting method. Everyone has different needs. Choose a fasting schedule that works for you. Or change it up from time to time. Fasting can become a vital part of your Healthspan routine. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about fasting.
As we transition into the New Year, I want to thank you for learning along with team Bodyhelix and me. We will be focusing on new beginnings, new plans, and new products on the horizon, and I'll be bringing you content on a few of my favorite subjects: Perspectives, Reticular Activating Systems, and Attention. I believe these secrets will help you right your course in 2022. I trust you will include discovering and supporting responsible, salutogenic companies to your New Year's goals.
Learn. Share. Inspire.